United States District Court, Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division
For Katherine Ford, Plaintiff: Andy L. Allman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Andy L. Allman & Associates, Hendersonville, TN.
For Humana, Inc., Defendant: Jennifer S. Rusie, LEAD ATTORNEY, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. (Nashville), Nashville, TN.
TODD J. CAMPBELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 16). For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's Motion is GRANTED, and this action is DISMISSED.
Plaintiff Ford has brought this action against her former employer, Defendant Humana, Inc. She alleges that Defendant discriminated against her because of her gender and retaliated against her because of her gender, complaints of discrimination, and the filing of an internal complaint, all in violation of both federal and state law.
Plaintiff began her employment with Defendant in 2011, as an agent in Defendant's Las Vegas office, selling various insurance products. Soon after starting with Defendant, Plaintiff attended three weeks of training in Tampa, Florida. Plaintiff asserts that she was very successful and received stellar evaluations in the Las Vegas office.
In 2012, because of a personal need to be closer to her family, Plaintiff applied for and was hired to be a sales representative in Defendant's Nashville office. Around the same time, Hall also moved to the Nashville office to be a Market Manager. Defendant selected Plaintiff for the open position instead of a male candidate with similar qualifications. There were 16 agents in the Nashville office, 11 males and 5 females. Plaintiff claims she received a " lukewarm" reception when she arrived in Nashville, was not given business cards, and was not given as many " leads" as she had been receiving in Las Vegas.
If a potential client expresses an interest in Defendant's products by contacting the corporate clearinghouse/call center, Defendant assigns the " lead" to an agent in the market in which the potential client is located. If a potential client expresses an interest in Defendant's products by contacting Defendant's local office, managers e-mail these " informal leads" to the agents. After Plaintiff's move to Nashville, Defendant sent her 240 clearinghouse leads and 24 informal leads between August 1, 2012, and December 31, 2012. Plaintiff received leads in 14 different counties.
As of October 15, 2012, Plaintiff had closed only one sale, despite being given 86 leads in 13 counties. Plaintiff had only six sales through the end of October. Plaintiff received 87 leads after October 31, 2012, and closed only 14 sales. Plaintiff continued to feel she was not getting support from management and, on November 29, 2012, she filed a complaint with Defendant's Associate Relations Department (" ARD"). Plaintiff complained that she felt she was being discriminated against by her management team and that she had a lack of support and communication and no follow-up on issues.
On January 7, 2013, Plaintiff sent an e-mail to her managers expressing her disappointment regarding the perceived lack of communication, dialogue and overall support she had received from them. The next morning, Defendant's Sales Manager for Tennessee, Mr. Staffen, e-mailed Plaintiff to ask for an opportunity to meet with her regarding her complaints. After these attempts to schedule a meeting with Plaintiff failed, Plaintiff told Staffen that since she had already filed a complaint with the ARD, she thought it best to let them handle it. Plaintiff does not dispute that this was the first time Staffen had learned of Plaintiff's complaint; neither does she dispute that her Market Managers had no knowledge of her complaint at this time either.
Because Plaintiff refused to meet with Mr. Staffen at any time on January 8, 2013, Mr. Staffen became suspicious, checked on the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance website and discovered that Plaintiff had been appointed to sell insurance products for competitors of Defendant (Physicians Life and Physicians Mutual) on December 17, 2012, while she was still employed with Humana. Plaintiff admits that being appointed with a competitor while still employed at Humana is a clear violation of Humana's conflict of interest policy, which Humana views as a terminable offense.
After calling Physicians Mutual and confirming that Plaintiff was working in that office and was in training that day, Mr. Staffen relayed this information to the ARD and stated that he would like Plaintiff's immediate termination because of her violation of the conflict of interest policy. Later that day, before Defendant had taken any action, Plaintiff e-mailed Mr. Staffen her resignation, which stated that she felt like she had no other option, as a result of her treatment from the management at Humana's Nashville office, but to accept a position with another company.
Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that she was forced to resign because of the retaliation and discrimination of Defendant against her and because of her gender. She filed a Charge of Discrimination with and received a Right to Sue Letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (" EEOC"). She brings this action for ...